Pennies Cast from a Generous Hand

The world has small moments of beauty everywhere, “pennies strewn liberally from a generous hand,” as Annie Dillard puts it. Walking the beach, I saw a small chunk of wood with a wet feather wound about it, its white tendrils flattened against that dark bark, and it struck me how even that was lovely, an accident of lapping waves bringing these two elements together. On the porch yesterday, I heard a thunk and looked over to see an apple rolling onto the yard. It’s amazing to think that even that far away, on a carpet of grass, an apple can fall and I can still hear the distinctness of its sound, even the crackling of its stem as it broke from the branch. I remember staring in awe at the sun-soaked russets of a bean field in October when we first came back to the Midwest from Florida–such a simple thing, but something I had not seen at all for years, and the color, the glint of those dried stems in sunset’s light, moved me to awe. Even now, years later, I haven’t grown apathetic about autumn bean fields, and I hope I never do.

Some other beautiful moments: a deer emerging from a thicket into the yard at dawn, its stick thin legs daintily imprinting the grass. A tangle of bittersweet vine dangling from a rusted barbed wire fence. A glint of brilliant light penetrating the thick leaf cover of our woods. One of my girls reaching out her arms for a hug, seeking warmth of another human and the love that seeps from one to another.

In this season especially, everything is the color of pennies, and I want to spend my days whirling, increasing my wealth, trying to catch all the pennies flung by a generous hand. These are some I have held in my hand, and I pass them to you.

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